Trading the fuzz pedal for shimmering pop.
For all its underground success, the debut by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart was not so much an album as it was a compilation of songs they'd recorded over their two-plus years of existence. By comparison, the much more cohesive Belong sounds like a coming of age. The songs are slicker than before, but the added pop sheen recalls the glossier side of their '80s influences (Orange Juice, Primitives) rather than pandering to contemporary airplay trends or department store CD racks. The giddy pop of "Heart in Your Heartbreak", the band's catchiest single to date, sounds earned, the product of band just beginning to realize their songwriting potential. Where their debut was a bit too enamored of the fuzz pedal, Belong hits its stride by purveying majestic pop hooks. Peggy Wang's keyboards take center stage in songs like "The Body" and "My Terrible Friend," which build on the shimmering luster of the band's 2009 EP Higher than the Stars. Hooks aside, Pains' greatest asset is their earnestness. This is a group unafraid of high school diary lyrics or subtle shout outs to the alternative rock albums that dominated their formative years: bits and pieces of Siamese Dream and Weezer's Blue Album can be heard in the guitar racket of "Belong" and "Girls of 1000 Dreams," and production and mixing by alt-mix icons Flood (Depeche Mode, Nick Cave) and Alan Moulder (My Bloody Valentine) add to the authenticity of the sound.
|Belong To Your Friends|